Know Sharron Angle? It doesn’t really matter.

Today my parents received in the mail a piece of campaign literature from the Republican Party of Nevada (never mind for a moment that we’re from Wisconsin). On the front of the envelope in big, bold, red, italicized letters it reads: “Help defeat the highly vulnerable U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid”. Normally campaign literature like this goes from my parent’s hands and into the trash bin. However, I make a hobby out of intercepting such literature, you know, for fun.

What strikes me as most interesting about this particular lit drop is that it is 100% defensive. It does not once mention Reid’s challenger, Sharron Angle. Angle, supported by the fearsome Tea Party, has been criticized as out of touch with most Nevada voters. The Tea Party movement, in general, has received similar criticism as being extreme. And it would seem from this letter that the Republican Party of Nevada has decided to ignore her, at least as much as they can in campaign materials.

Instead the Party focuses on the perceived national interest in defeating the Senate Majority Leader, explaining why this letter made it to us in Wisconsin. Note the first sentence of the letter: “I urge you to join leading conservative Republicans from coast-to-coast in a national effort to defeat the highly vulnerable Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in the fall.” Our friend Robert List (whom this letter is from) instead wants to appeal to Republicans nationally who do not particularly agree with Senator Reid. His audience extends beyond state lines.

We could just write this off as a far-flung (note: not far-fetched) fundraising strategy. Reid is among the foremost visible Democratic officeholders nationally. Even if you couldn’t name a single other Democrat in the Senate, you probably recognize the name Harry Reid. And the letter also emphasizes how Nevada is a pretty small state, so even your small donation could make a difference (the letter actually uses the phrase “wildly disproportionate impact”).

However, I speculate this is also an example of the tension Tea Party candidates create for ‘established’ Republicans. Many Republicans fear that an extremist Tea Party candidate, like Sharron Angle, (extremist because she is Tea Party affiliated, of course) will scare away the average Nevada voter. Instead it is safer for the Republican Party of Nevada, and across the U.S., to shift attention to defeating the Democrats rather than advocating a win for Republicans. I just wonder how this sort of rhetorical strategy might be different if there were less rivalry within the GOP itself.

-lb

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~ by Lindsay Bembenek on June 19, 2010.

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